Balancing Act by Vicki Keire

Sometimes, even the most dedicated and productive writers among us can have trouble meeting our goals. Simple exhaustion, financial stress, and family responsibilities can seem to conspire to keep us from doing the work that needs to be done. While we can’t do anything about many of these stresses —the rent needs to be paid, and families need attention— we can change the way that we deal with these external pressures and minimize their impact.

Write during times that you are most productive.

Do you write well in the morning, or do you find yourself snoring into your keyboard? Can you work in the evenings after the kids are in bed? Try to schedule those hours for writing. If at all possible, plan your work schedule, errands and chores so that you reserve your creative hours for writing.

Write in a space where you can be productive.

Do you get more done at home, or does getting to work an hour early do the trick? There’s no sense planning to work at home if you wind up watching television every time you try to work at your kitchen table.

  • I can’t say enough wonderful things about my library (plus there’s a coffee shop in the basement.) But lots of people find them too quiet and stuffy.
  • If your work space is at home, try not to make it your bedroom. I never sleep well if my work space and my sleep space are the same room. We all need at least one room where we can escape.
  • If you get “stuck,” try a change of scene. A coffee house, a park, a bookstore, or even a new spot in the house may provide that kick you need.

Figure out how you work best, and try to work that way.

  • Develop “writing” rituals. Lighting a candle, brewing tea, using a special WIP-only pen, and other ritualistic behaviors tell your brain that “it is time to get down to business.”
  • Think about what actually works, not just how you like to work. You may LOVE to blare your favorite band while you write, but if you wind up singing along at the top of your lungs half the time, it may not be working. Plus your neighbors might secretly hate you.
  • The point is, figure out what works and DO THAT. If something keeps you from working, DITCH IT. Once you have the “ritual that works,” do it as often as you can when you write. Repetition reinforces!

Most importantly, don’t let the fact that you have a plan keep you from changing it when needed.

While it’s ideal to plan your days to enable you to spend your most productive work time in your most productive work space working in your most productive method, you can’t always do that. So practice working elsewhere, and at other times. Losing your magic WIP pen is not an excuse not to write! Neither is being on a business trip or vacation, or having to reschedule your regular writing time because you need to go to the dentist. Try to be flexible, and don’t let rituals become excuses.

 ~*~

Vicki Keire

6 comments

  1. Great post Vicki! It is so true that it is important to find what is right for you in your writing but roll with the changes when they come.

  2. GREAT post and advice. Perfect for a Monday morning jump start. I really love what you said at the end – if you have a plan, don’t be afraid to change it. Make changes where necessary to maximize your writing.

  3. My oldest son gave me his old (and very basic) desk, and my husband fixed me up a little corner in our exercise room. I can close the door and get away from the blare of the television and other distractions. It’s a great little place.

  4. I wish I could close the door. I can, if I can find the time to move a concertina door from another part of the house. You need to create a space for yourself to work and space works for me in three dimensions: physical space, mind space and time space.

    Yesterday I created a timetable for myself setting out blocks of time. I see them as classes I have to attend and where I will be reprimanded if I do not show and give my all the whole time I am there. I also included ample breaks in my timetable because we are not machines.

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